DETROIT — Justin Verlander approached this start like a post-season game, fully aware of how tough the Los Angeles Dodgers are to beat right now.
After five innings, Verlander had a no-hitter going — but so did Kenta Maeda. Then Detroit broke through for four runs in the sixth, giving Verlander a little more margin for error.
"It's impossible to really create a playoff atmosphere without being in the playoffs, but I tried my best to do that," Verlander said. "There was that much more focus and intensity in every pitch."
Verlander allowed two hits in eight innings, and the Tigers beat the Dodgers 6-1 on Sunday, snapping their six-game skid and halting a six-game winning streak by Los Angeles.
The Tigers star allowed a home run to Curtis Granderson in the sixth, but shortly after his no-hit bid ended, Detroit broke up Maeda's and took the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Verlander (9-8) walked one and struck out nine.
"Verlander certainly showed today that he's still an ace," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He hasn't had the career he's had by accident. He's a great pitcher."
Maeda (11-5) retired the first 15 Detroit batters before allowing five hits in the sixth. He was pulled after that inning and lost for the first time in seven starts.
Verlander has pitched two no-hitters in his career. He retired the first 13 Los Angeles hitters, taming the team with by far the best record in the major leagues.
"If Justin Verlander's pitching well, it doesn't matter. It could be the '27 Yankees," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "The numbers are going to look pretty good for Ver at the end of the game if he's pitching like he did today."
Verlander walked Yasiel Puig on a full count in the fifth, and Granderson's drive to right field an inning later hit the pole for a homer. The only other hitter to reach base against Verlander was Austin Barnes, who singled in the eighth.
John Hicks lined a clean single to left-centre to lead off the bottom of the sixth and break up Maeda's perfect game. Andrew Romine followed with a double, and Dixon Machado hit a two-run double that put the Tigers up 2-1.
Justin Upton added a two-run homer later in the inning.
"It all happened very quickly. He gave up that first double on a curveball, and then they got a couple more," Roberts said. "He looked like he was going to get through it, but he hung a slider in Justin's turbo zone. You can't do that right now."
It was Upton's 26th home run of the year.
Verlander, who has been the subject of trade speculation for several weeks, waved to the crowd as he entered the dugout after the top of the eighth.
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run double in the eighth to make it 6-1.
Verlander was hoping he'd struck out Granderson with a pitch immediately before his home run — but the fastball was just off the plate. Verlander later conceded that plate umpire Chris Segal had made the right call and said he told the ump that toward the end of the game.
"I think if you ask almost any umpire, I'm kind of one of those guys that's pretty fiery out there," Verlander said. "Then I'll go look at it and try to give an objective opinion. If it's a ball, I try to come back and say, 'Hey, you were right.'"
Umpires wore white wristbands during Saturday's games after Detroit's Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for a recent tirade against ump Angel Hernandez. The protest of what umpires called "abusive player behaviour" ended after Commissioner Rob Manfred offered to meet with their union's governing board.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (lower back strain) is expected to pitch a three-inning simulated game Monday. ... 1B Cody Bellinger sat out after spraining his right ankle Saturday.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (14-1) takes the mound at Pittsburgh on Monday night against RHP Gerrit Cole (10-8) of the Pirates.
Tigers: Detroit has Monday off before hosting the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. LHP Matthew Boyd (5-6) starts the opener of that series against RHP Masahiro Tanaka (8-10).
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